By Diksha Babbar
EPRG Outreach, The Economics Society
The Economics Book Club series came to an end this semester with a fascinating discussion including the gender pay gap, shadow economy, and the minimum wage. As with previous sessions, students were provided with a list of articles and discussion papers on both the topics to read before in order to build a healthy discussion.
With high numbers of women in many fields and high university attendance rates, the question of gender and the pay gap still looms over working women. Students unanimously emphasized the fact that despite the presence of legislations like the Equal Pay Act, women still earn less than men. The discussion focused on how young and independent women still have better chance of getting equal pay, but on the other side of the coin, married women have less chances for the same. Some of the students brought up the issue of increasing demand for affordable childcare options with the increase in working mothers, and others highlighted the decline in pay after maternity leave. Students also critically examined the statistics to find the gender pay gap has been reduced in a lot of countries due to changing demographics.
Under the second discussion of the minimum wage, book club attendees analysing the factors affecting wages, discussing how minimum wages increase during recession and how strong evidence displayed that increase in wages has less effect on GDP. One of the important factors in wage determination was the link between job destruction and raising the minimum wage. The discussion also stressed on how low-skilled labourers have more jobs with better wages in the case of increase in minimum wages, but on the other hand how in many countries higher minimum wage levels lead to fewer jobs overall. This point raised a lot of conflict in the discussion. The highlight of the discussion was the article ‘Minimum Wage or Living Income?’ by Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University which provoked excellent discussion.
Due to the high level of interest shown by students this semester, Dr Ian Smith is all set to continue with the book club next semester, on Wednesday afternoon of Week 1, with a very influential book in government policy-making: Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler. It should make an excellent addition to your summer reading list. Whether or not you had the chance to get involved with the Economics Book Club this semester — I would strongly encourage anyone with a passion and interest in Economics to join us for an engaging discussion next year!
Readings for the last book club: